America's Greatest New Film Festival!
(as well as some other weekend thoughts, ponders, & links for you)
So what’s this film festival I wanna tell you about? It’s been hiding in plain sight for awhile. Have you heard of the month of October? Perhaps you’ve been there…
It happens across the entire country and is the radical revision of the film festival ecosystem that many have been hoping for. It’s radically decentralized and incredibly diverse. It has many different personalities. It plays in some of the best venues imaginable and brings the films and many filmmakers right to where the audiences are. It’s as close to a level playing field that filmmakers can get and generally is immune from that distasteful (but seemingly necessary) sponsor-chasing that plagues the field. It is also blessedly free from any inflated ego -- self-imposed or seemingly industry-gifted – and seems driven solely by love of cinema and the folks who make it. Somehow it has generally resisted the corporate cooptation that plagues the biggies, and could be a lynch pin in the new indie ecosystem. It also gloriously refuses to color within the lines, in that despite its name, it actually starts in September. But yes, perhaps America’s greatest film festival is the month of October.
Many in this biz still subscribe to a festival hierarchy; it has been the cause of much unwarranted agita along the way. Sure, it might be true that many filmmakers’ careers were made or failed to launch because of the initial festivals they got into. The industry’s sages promote a ranking including only four or five festivals – more if you were non-fiction – that “matter”; for decades this seemed to be the law of the land. Like many things though, it is a false construct reinforced by our blind acceptance of an opinion. Let it go and let’s envision the world a new.
But how do you sing this song you ask? Well start in the key of Woodstock and then hum a few bars of NYFF, followed by a rousing chorus of Mill Valley, the harmony of the Heartland Film Festival, the rhythm of Seattle’s Doc festival and the horns of the Hamptons International. Boom boom boom goes Chicago’s drum, and ratatattat goes the cymbals of New Hampshire International. Singalong with SCAD: Savannah, Mountclair, and Middleburg. But then finish big with the incredible IndieMemphis, AFI and Nashville. I am sure I forgot the lyrics, so let’s improvise and add whatever I missed on to a list below.
I’d love to see who get the gold star this year at hitting all the spots in this glorious opera. Double points if you touch down in Canada along the way. There’s definitely a version that includes many international flavors and destinations. But if you are up for this hootenany, come give me and Vanessa a hug if you see us along the way. We’ve got our own song to sing.
Seriously though, October is the biggest, most inclusive, and well-programmed festival America has. It has accomplished innovations that others only dream of. Democracy works and we need no one in charge — at least not in overlord way. It’s cooperative and compassionate: just carry your fair share and work together so that we can all prosper equally on a level playing field. That’s the jet pack you were promised. That’s the America you dreamed of. That’s the film ecosystem that embraces us all. And it is here. Accept no imitation.
Perhaps next year we can hit all or just most of them together and really get our band humming. Okay, October does have that problem of a nasty problem of a large carbon footprint, but by next year I will have my telepathy and astral projection back to a fully functional level so then if you follow the instructions we can all be everywhere at once!
Department of: “You already belong to the community, but perhaps your circumstances have changed. Or you have some friends that would, and they could, but for some reason they haven’t yet.”
You may know that I offer free "paid" subscriptions to HFF. I have said I will give any SAG-AFTRA, WGA, student, or anyone under financial hardship a subscription. It holds true for any filmworker not able to earn as they once did. So add to that list any Producer Union, PGA, IATSE, DGA, or indie film member, vendor, or exec laid off by AMPTC or associated companies. Just let me know. These times are tough but they don't have to be so tough if we huddle together. Keep dreaming big.
I also offer the option akin to "Sound Of Freedom": if a new non-dependent film ecosystem prioritizing both the artist & the audience is your jam, please consider paying it forward and buying out a screening or three for other members of the church of cinema love. We can gift subscriptions and individual posts and make everything free for more! Perhaps even host screenings of artist-owned and worker-owned movies! The world is yours for the making.
Today’s post has all sorts of things in store for you. Consider it another experiment in form. I’ve got updates of where you can find me IRL and virtually. Some details of where you might encounter my recent collaborations. I even have some recommendations for you. It’s a weekend for musings, so I have an addition to my strategy for Labor to win the strike too. It wouldn’t be complete without a pondering of the market, right? And did I mention I have a film poem. Actually I have a book’s worth now, but I am only sharing one to see if you’d want some more. Let’s dig in, shall we?
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